Victims of crime come from all walks of life and socio-economic groups. Crime victims are not only from vulnerable populations, they live in every neighbourhood and can be any age, gender or ethnicity. The Victims of Crime Fund (VOCF) provides funding for financial benefits paid to eligible victims of violent crime for physical and/or emotional injuries suffered. It also provides grant funding primarily to police-based Victim Services Units (VSUs) and specialized community-based assistance programs, to deliver programs that benefit victims during their involvement with the criminal justice process, as legislated under the Victims of Crime Act.
Objective and Scope
The objective of our audit was to assess whether the department has adequate systems to manage the VOCF and conclude if there is an approved business plan for the use of the fund which allows for the analysis of victims’ needs and clearly sets out how much should be spent to meet the intent of the Act. We also examined whether the department has developed achievable and measurable goals for the fund in order to publicly report key results to Albertans.
The department and VOCF program have adequate systems and processes to manage the day-to-day administration of the fund. However, the department is not completing the necessary strategic planning, analysis and reporting to establish desired results, and the resources necessary to achieve those results.
There is also no plan how to appropriately and productively use the fund’s growing accumulated surplus to best meet the needs of Albertans as intended by the Act. The government’s and department’s current budget process treats the fund like any other generally funded program even though it is self-financing and has its own independent funding source. Business and budgeting practices are potentially restricting operating decisions intended to better serve victims of crime.